After the publication of his first novel in the mid-1980s, Paul Park swiftly attracted notice as one of the finest authors on the “humanist” wing of American SF. His powerful, densely written narratives of religious and existential crisis on worlds at once exotic and familiar won him comparisons with Gene Wolfe and Brian Aldiss at their best.
His first major project was the Starbridge Chronicles, a triptych of novels consisting of Soldiers of Paradise (1987), Sugar Rain (1989) and The Cult of Loving Kindness (1991); elaborate and elegiac, full of keen historical echoes and penetrating spiritual understanding, the series remains one of the most splendid literary architectures SF has yet produced. Coelestis (1993) more sparely assesses the alienation wrought by colonialism on its practitioners and victims, to superb tragic effect, and The Gospel of Corax (1996) offers a sublimely heterodox account of how an oddly mute Christ may have learned to transfigure the world. Like Park’s oblique short stories, all of these novels are strange, challenging, magnificently surreal.
Those exceptional short stories were collected in If Lions Could Speak in 2002, and a second major revisionist novel concerning the life of Jesus, Three Marys, was published in 2003. An impressive novella, “No Traveller Returns,” followed in 2004. In 2005 Tor Books issued A Princess of Roumania, a brilliant alternate-history fantasy; succeeding volumes, The Tourmaline (2006), and The White Tyger (2007), have deepened this Ruritanian tapestry of otherworldly evil and splendid madness. The final installment, The Hidden World (2008), is eagerly awaited.
by Nick Gevers
Updated from SciFi Weekly